The White House on Monday urged private companies to implement rules for employees to receive coronavirus vaccines, two days after a federal court temporarily stayed the administration's mandate requiring businesses to vaccinate their workforce.
"We think people should not wait," White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters during the daily press briefing. "We say, do not wait to take actions that will keep your workplace safe. It is important and critical to do and waiting to get more people vaccinated will lead to more outbreaks and sickness."
"We're trying to get past this pandemic, and we know the way to do that is to get people vaccinated," Jean-Pierre added.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled Saturday to temporarily halt the mandate, citing "grave statutory and constitutional issues" with it.
The ruling came as several Republican attorneys general of Texas, South Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi and Utah, as well as several private companies, filed petitions Friday challenging the mandate. More than two dozen state attorneys general as well as other organizations are challenging the rule in court.
The appeals court ordered that the Joe Biden administration should respond to the petitioners' request for a permanent injunction by 5 p.m. Monday.
The mandate was formally known as an emergency temporary standard and was developed by the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
According to the requirements, employees of companies with a workforce of 100 or more must be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4. Unvaccinated employees must submit weekly negative COVID-19 tests to enter the workplace after the deadline. Unvaccinated workers must start wearing masks indoors at their workplaces starting Dec. 5.
Federal law gives OSHA the authority to issue an emergency temporary standard if it determines workers are exposed to a "grave danger" that makes the rule necessary.
"The administration clearly has the authority to protect workers, and actions announced by the president are designed to save lives and stop the spread of COVID-19," Jean-Pierre said, noting that the Justice Department would be defending the rule in court.